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At Least 27,000 RVers Fabricate Residency in South Dakota

Our friends at KELO-TV seem surprised to discover what we’ve known for years: thousands of Americans spend one night a year in South Dakota to claim residency here and dodge taxes:

Americas Mailbox in Box Elder, South Dakota Residency Center in Spearfish and Dakota Post in Sioux Falls are two address companies.

Nellie Taylor of Americas Mailbox said it has 15,500 members.

Members include full-time RVer’s military members, snowbirds and traveling nurses, Taylor said.

…What are the benefits of benefits of being a South Dakota resident when the resident doesn’t physically live here?

Here’s what the mail forwarding businesses and social media supporters say: Tax savings.

Residents who spend only one day every five years here don’t pay any state income taxes, their Social Security and retirement pensions are not taxed and there are no gift or inheritance taxes.

Vehicle registration fees, vehicle taxes and vehicle insurance fees are among the lowest in the nation. South Dakota does not require annual vehicle inspections.

…There are 9,289 registered voters with the Americas Way address, said Lori Severson, the election supervisor for Pennington County.

…Minnehaha County sent out 2,226 absentee ballots for the November 2020 election to registered voters with the 3916 N. Potsdam Ave. address, county auditor Ben Kyte said [Rae Yost, “Spend One Night Here and You Can Be a South Dakota Resident,” KELO-TV, 2021.04.02].

Those three residency mills have 27,000 members who experience only the benefit of low taxes—more money in their pockets—and none of the harms—strangled public budgets resulting in lower quality schools, county roads, fire protection, and other vital public services. If those ersatz residents all vote, they constitute 4.6% of the currently registered South Dakota electorate.

In 2018, Kristi Noem beat Billie Sutton by 11,458 votes.

17 Comments

  1. cibvet 2021-04-05 13:30

    You should probably should have mentioned that possibly many of the people are actually residents that own property here, pay SD property taxes here and support the local economy. Given the poor turnout of voters in SD, I seriously doubt the “ersatz” residents would take the time to vote.

  2. Eve Fisher 2021-04-05 13:46

    Oh, these RVrs do indeed vote. There was an election in which the local popular candidate was defeated by an influx of mail-in votes – all from the same address, that provided by My Dakota Address address company, formerly of Madison, SD.
    NOTE: My Dakota Address bit the dust when they were proved to have enabled “a ring of savvy car thieves in New York” who registered ripped-off Lamborghinis and Range Rovers in South Dakota, a state that lets people register out-of-state vehicles by mail and wasn’t thoroughly checking to see if they were stolen. Maybe somebody should look into these other companies as well.
    https://www.argusleader.com/story/news/2018/11/09/feds-vehicle-theft-ring-exposes-oversight-weakness-south-dakota/1944935002/

  3. bearcreekbat 2021-04-05 13:46

    If these RVers are complying with SD law and federal law in establishing residency in SD then they can hardly be accused of “fabricating” their residency. SD law and federal law might fall short of desired standards to establish residency, but any accountability for that problem certainly should be placed on whichever lawmakers enacted such laws, and the voters who put them in office, rather than individuals that seek to benefit from complying with those residency laws. Unless there is more to the story, such as RVers committing fraud or perjury, these RVer’s deserve better than to be accused of fabricating anything.

  4. Donald Pay 2021-04-05 13:57

    You mean all I have to do to qualify to vote in your initiatives elections is to register an RV? Does the RV actually have to park in SD? Can it be some broken down POS sitting on blocks, but as long as I register it, I’m a South Dakotan?

  5. cibvet 2021-04-05 16:30

    To register to vote in South Dakota, you must:

    Be a United States citizen (South Dakota Constitution, Article VII, Section 2)
    Reside in South Dakota (residency defined)
    Be at least 18 years old on or before the next election
    Not currently serving a sentence for a felony conviction which included imprisonment, served or suspended, in an adult penitentiary system (See additional felony information)
    Not be judged mentally incompetent by a court of law

    Definition of Residency for Voter Registration (SDCL 12-1-4)

    For the purposes of this title (Title 12), the term, residence, means the place in which a person has fixed his or her habitation and to which the person, whenever absent, intends to return.

    A person who has left home and gone into another state or territory or county of this state for a temporary purpose only has not changed his or her residence.

    A person is considered to have gained a residence in any county or municipality of this state in which the person actually lives, if the person has no present intention of leaving.

    If a person moves to another state, or to any of the other territories, with the intention of making it his or her permanent home, the person thereby loses residence in this state

    Also I am always asked for a drivers license to vote

  6. Eve Fisher 2021-04-05 17:30

    Oh, cibvet, there are special rules for special people. From the old My Dakota Address Website:
    How do I register to vote?
    Fill out a voters registration form. The deadline for registration is 15 days before any election. Please contact our office at 1-866-202-2163 or info@mydakotaaddress.com for details.

    Right now on the America’s Mailbox site:
    Print a voter registration form: Voter Registration Form
    Print and mail the form to our office at: Pennington County Auditor, PO Box 6160, Rapid City SD 57709-6160
    You can use this form to:
    Register to vote in South Dakota
    Change your registration name or address
    Change your party affiliation
    If you require assistance in completing this form, please call our office at 605-394-2153
    Make sure to fill out the blank voter’s registration forms so that both the residential and mailing addresses are your PMB address.
    You MUST fill out a new absentee ballot request form each calendar year. Indicate what elections you wish to vote in, and then the absentee ballot will be mailed to your address about 6 weeks before each election.

    From the South Dakota Residency Center,
    Secure your physical address in South Dakota.
    Getting proof of your new address in South Dakota is simple – all you have to do is show that you have secured a personal mailbox with a local mailbox provider like us. Head over to our mail services page now to secure one of our four mailbox packages, then simply keep a record of our mail forwarding agreement to bring in to the DMV when you sign up for your residency.
    Stay one night at a South Dakota address.
    You can fulfill this requirement by spending one night at our beautiful, 5-star Spearfish KOA Campground open year around for camping and lodging. We are located in Spearfish, SD, in the Northern Black Hills.

    My note:
    Then you have to show up at the DMV and make residency formal. After that, you request an absentee ballot, and you never have to show up again and can vote, using the address supplied by Americas Mailbox in Box Elder, South Dakota Residency Center in Spearfish and Dakota Post in Sioux Falls.

    If you’ll go to the websites you can find out all the law-evading details for yourself.

  7. bearcreekbat 2021-04-05 17:33

    Thanks cibvet, that helps clarify the situation. It is entirely possible that one or some of the individuals referenced in Cory’s post have intentionally perjured themselves by misrepresenting the place they consider their home or residence as defined by the statute. The chances, however, that all, most, or even a large percentage of the 27,000 referenced people have done seems unlikely, but who knows?

    Also I think you have answered Donald’s question.

  8. Eve Fisher 2021-04-05 17:36

    Oh, and when I first found out about these businesses, I contacted then AG Jackley and asked him about it.
    His reply, in toto:
    Ms. Fisher,
    The State of South Dakota is aware of these types of operations. If you have information regarding specific instances of crimes arising from the use of such services, please contact local law enforcement or the State’s Attorney.

    You see, South Dakota is making money off the RVrs – license, registration fees, etc. And apparently that’s enough to close our lawmakers’ eyes to the its blatantly fraudulent nature.

  9. Scott 2021-04-05 17:52

    Mail in votes are only fraud if they don’t vote Republican. I have a friend who hasn’t lived here for 35 years, has a Lake county license plate, and votes absentee by mail.

  10. cibvet 2021-04-05 18:47

    It appears that Eve Fisher and Scott know special people or friends that perjure themselves. I’m certainly not a lawyer so maybe the Definition of Residency for Voter Registration (SDCL 12-1-4) can be twisted into something other than what it says.

  11. bearcreekbat 2021-04-05 18:50

    The SD LRC has published a recent (November 2020) relatively short and and easy to read explanation of the legal concepts of residency and domicle under both federal constitutional law and South Dakota law (covering the residency requirements to engage in virtually any activity in the State, from voting, taxes, hunting and fishing, to college tuition fees and much more), which is extremely informative and a must read for anyone interested in the legal concept of residency:

    https://mylrc.sdlegislature.gov/api/Documents/207175.pdf

  12. cibvet 2021-04-06 08:49

    Thanks bcb.

  13. Trowa Barton 2021-06-04 07:36

    Calling this “Fabricating Residency” is a really nice way of saying you don’t know how to read.

  14. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2021-06-04 16:54

    So how is “fabricating residency” incorrect? The people on question don’t actually live here. They don’t maintain a permanent domicile in SD. They fill out papers and fabricate residency.

  15. Kat M 2021-07-01 10:01

    Some of us who live in our RVs full time spend months at a time in certain states, so why should we not be allowed to establish residency, as long as we pick one state? I personally am spending four months in SD, and only one in my home state of NC. The rest of the time will be in various other states. So if my vehicles registration is due while I’m in SD, why should I travel to a state I spend almost no time in to register vehicles? I’m not a resident of another state, and I must have a license and registration, so why does it matter where I do that if I am paying the same fees everyone else in the state is paying? Plus, how many rvs come to SD every year? You should be happy we think the state is so welcoming and not make us want to avoid it. We are very mobile and this country has many beautiful places!

  16. Richard Schriever 2021-08-08 10:33

    Kat M,

    So, in your view it is proper to be able to “purchase” the right to vote in a particular state?

  17. cibvet 2021-08-08 11:51

    It seems that some believe that citizens who purchase an RV and live in it full time, shouldn’t be allowed to vote. If they meet the domicile and residency requirements, I guess I don’t understand the problem unless it is jealousy that they afford and choose a different lifestyle.

Comments are closed.